Who’s your champion?

It’s obvious why everyone needs to have a person who would be considered their “champion” or biggest supporter in their life. Perhaps a different one professionally and personally. The champion I am referring to, is the type of person who truly believes in you. Regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Someone you can always rely upon, particularly when you may not be at the top of your “game”.

When I think about who my “champion” is, they embody all of the qualities you would ideally want this person to have, starting with believing in the core essence of who you are. This person also has an unwavering integrity and a solution minded outlook. They also are what I’ll refer to as a “clear-thinker”. What some others might call rational, especially during highly charged emotional situations. Perhaps what some might also refer to as drama.

Speaking of drama, this is not something I ever seek out to have going on in my life. Although it does appear some people seek this out, or have a magnet which draws them in to more routinely being in this state. It’s possible people with lots of drama in their life like having it occur, but from my perspective it is an unnecessary distraction from what would be more important to be focused on. For instance, addressing challenges, rather than circling around them in a drama induced frenzy, absent of any solution.

People who have drama in their lives may not realize how much energy they are having consumed when they are in their “dramatic” situation, and that if this energy was redirected, how different their circumstances might be. My interpretation of people who either attract or live a life filled with drama have learned to embrace this way of living. It appears to be a cycle they can’t break, and perhaps don’t want to. However, if they better understood the option of not having drama occurring constantly in their life, they could in fact impact their life very positively. Even reduce or eliminate the drama in their lives.

It’s possible that people who have too much drama going on, do not have a champion in their life. Or, maybe they did at one point, and the champion gave up supporting them because the person they were attempting to help did not ever accept their advice. If this was the case, I’m sure the champion went well beyond what would be reasonable to hang-in and attempt to help the person they were championing. However, they also determined eventually that the person was not going to accept their support, and ultimately, they reluctantly walked away from the lack of making any progress.

Having a champion in one’s life is a gift, and not everyone is given this gift. A champion of another person does not always intentionally become one. Sometimes this person is surprised by the fact they took on this role. This may seem odd or counterintuitive to think about, but it does happen.

An example of this occurring, is when someone becomes the champion of another person due to their empathy for the person and the circumstances they are in. Potentially circumstances they could help to influence and help the person they are championing to improve. Not always with money, but often with attention, guidance and ultimately love, or a deep appreciation for making the circumstances better for the person they are the champion for.

If you are seeking to find a champion to have in your life either personally or professionally, perhaps both, here are some suggestions for seeking them out. However, you might not have to look that hard for them, as they are likely in your life right now, and you have not been focused on seeing them.

  • Most parents play a role in being our initial champion in our lives, but not always. If you have not embraced or felt that they have contributed to playing this role, it’s possible either you did not accept them attempting to do this for you, or they didn’t have the capacity to do this for a myriad of reasons.
  • Coaches, teachers and others who you have interacted with in your life who are in their roles to support having your best interest in mind, are naturally skilled at being one of your champions. Did you seek them out in the past to do this? If not, consider why you might not have.
  • Someone you think of as your mentor or advisor can also play the role of your champion. I personally have a number of people who are in each of these roles that I rely upon for helping to champion me when I need their support. My earliest memory of a mentor champion was my summer camp counselor who always encouraged me to do my best at everything I was attempting to do. Especially new things I was learning to do.
  • Consider aspects of your life either personally or professionally that you might need additional support. Is there someone you know who has experience in those areas that can help you? If so, are you comfortable enough with reaching out to them for their support?
  • Asking someone to be your champion typically happens more organically than being architected into your life. Your champion will more likely “adopt” you, and you may or may not be fully aware of when this happens.
  • Perhaps you are someone’s champion? Does the person know you are playing this role? It’s possible they do not, or at least not yet.
  • Being another person’s champion is an incredibly noble role to play. One that requires you to be unselfish, giving of your time, energy and experience, and always there for the person, particularly in some of the most difficult circumstances you will be helping them to navigate through.

My sincere hope is that you have a champion, are one, or will be one in someone else’s life one day. Thank you to all of the champions out there who are making a difference in other people’s lives. You are all unsung heroes, and may you continue to be one. Enjoy the experience of helping and supporting others, particularly during times they need you the most to be there for them.

Tags: #Mentoring #Champion #Leadership #Management #Business #Life #Helpingothers #Makingadifference #Coaches #Teachers #Cheerleader #Coach #SportsCoach #Parent #Parents #Boss #Teacher

How do you inspire “bench” players or work place team members?

I was recently talking to a leader of a sports team. I asked her this question “What do you do to both motivate and inspire your “bench players?” For clarification, the players who don’t see as much playing time, but who are also important members of the team. She told me that this is probably one of the most difficult things to do, or to do well and consistently.

After I heard this leader express that this is a challenging situation, and understandably something that most leaders face on a regular basis, I asked her “what if I had a solution to this challenge?” Naturally I piqued her curiosity, and she said “you have my full attention”. So, with this green light to proceed with my solution, I kicked off my solution explanation.

To set the stage for my solution to be shared, I asked this leader a few more questions. The next question I asked was “what happens when you are unable to inspire one of your players who regularly does not see much playing time?” I followed this question by asking “what’s your method to integrate your bench players into your team’s overall success strategy?” This last question seemed to really strike a nerve. I could also visually see that it was one she didn’t have a good answer to. However, she wasn’t the first leader I have worked with who responded this way.

Now let’s get back to discussing and responding to the first question I posed about how does someone inspire their bench or workplace team mates? As I proceeded to queue up the foundation for how I have been able to accomplish this, I also shared that this was something she could implement too. Of course, with some guidance, as I have been doing this for a while.

As part of explaining the “how” it is possible to inspire and motivate bench players, one of the factors I brought up to this leader was the number one reason people in the workplace feel good about the company they are aligned with. It’s a rather simple, but at the same time, can be extraordinary complex concept to get right. It’s that someone feels appreciated. Conversely, when people do not feel appreciated, it’s also the number one reason they leave the situation they are in.

So, if feeling appreciated is the perhaps one of the “secret” ingredients to inspiring or motivating others, is there an ideal way to accomplish this? Yes, there is, and it is one of the foundational way’s leaders can achieve the inspiration they are seeking to bring to their “bench players”.

Let’s now drill down into how I have worked with leaders to help them to achieve inspiring others.  The first thing I do is to determine what their top strength is. In full disclosure, I am a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, so I leverage the StrengthsFinder Survey Assessment to determine this. After I determine what a person’s number one strength is, I focus on helping them and their leader to understand how to properly leverage this strength. To leverage it in multiple scenarios, with the critical one being when they are not always fully engaged at the level they desire to be on their team.

When an individual can contribute their number one strength both on and off the “field” or in the workplace, this is when the “magic” of tapping into this concept begins to emerge. The person is able to both tap into a different source of their own motivation, and derive the benefits of their leader knowing how to accomplish this to. In fact, to know precisely how to both inspire and engage this individual, even if they are not playing an active role on the “field” or under the spotlight in their work place role.

Now, here is the brief version of the story I shared with the leader about one of the athletes I worked with who experienced the “pure magic” of being an inspired “bench player”. It’s important to understand that this particular player may not have initially understood that their role on the team was not going to be an active one. In fact, they may have thought due to their seniority on the team, that they would play an integral role on the field. This wasn’t the case. However, what did occur was that their “bench” position was actually far more important to contributing to their team’s success, than their limited time on the field.

How is it possible that a “bench player” could positively influence the outcome of their team’s performance? This is exactly the question that most leaders are challenged with, and I have repeatably proven that this is possible. It’s possible because when a person is able to engage in leveraging their own innate talents differently, and understand how to apply them constructively, yet outside of the way they may more traditionally do so, this is when they are both personally inspired and motivated. One more thing, they also feel appreciated too!

The biggest challenge leaders have with inspiring their “bench players” is that they may not or don’t appreciate the role they can play in this capacity. Instead of feeling like the “bench player” is going to be a challenge for them, they need to understand in fact how to tap into and leverage this person differently. Differently in the capacity of having them understand the integral role they do in fact play and contribute to the team as a bench player.

If you are a leader who is interested in learning more about how to both inspire and motivate your bench players, let’s talk. You know how to reach me, and I’ll look forward to having a conversation with you.

TAGS: #Motivation #Inspiration #Teams #Howtoinspireothers #Inspiringothers #Business #Leaders #Leveragingtalent #Leveragingstrengths #Talent #Talentdevelopment #Teamdevelopment #Sports #Coaches #Sportscoaches #Businessleaders

Reflection – the advantage of it in business, sports & managing others

For those of you who are also Brene Brown fans, you will appreciate what I will be sharing with you, as the context of what I will be revealing to you is based on over countless hours of research I have been doing during the last year. Most people are not aware of the fact I was working on this project, but it is one of the most gratifying projects I have worked on.

So, who and what was I researching? I have been interviewing sports coaches around the country, and added a coach from South Africa to the mix a few weeks ago. The coaches cover over a dozen different sports, are a mix of women and men, and they are coaching at the Professional (e.g., NFL, NBA, MLL, USTA), Olympic, College and High School levels. On average, the coaches have been in their role for a decade, and they represent a significant enough amount of States.

I am still conducting my research, but I recently analyzed the results from the coaches I have already spoken to. If I were to summarize what I am attempting to determine via this research is the coaches “why”. In other words, “why do they coach?”

If you happen to be a coach or perhaps a leader in the business world who is reading this, I guarantee you would agree that coaches and leaders share numerous characteristics. One of them is the reason why they enjoy leading others. Yes, you might be surprised by the majority of their responses, but the title of this article also provides you with a large clue about the direction the research outcome is heading.

As you are aware, the process of reflection is something that takes time. Time to devote to going through the process of being reflective, and also having a reason to do so.

Most surprisingly was the fact that the majority of the coaches had not taken the time to reflect upon or verbally convey their “why” they coach others. However, after sharing their “why” with me, all of them said they were pleasantly surprised they had not gone through this experience before, as they found it to be both therapeutic and paid tribute to all of the years they have devoted to coaching.

One of the words I repeatably heard from coaches was that coaching is similar to a “calling”. It was something they felt compelled they needed to do. Others articulated that they became a coach because of the experience and incredible life lessons they gained from their coaches, and they wanted to give this “gift” back to others.

Since being reflective does require you take time to capitalize on the advantages of doing so, why don’t more people do this? Especially leaders, people managing others and of course coaches too? It seems simple enough to do. However, it also requires being able to ask the right questions to be able to get to the deepest level possible of response reflection. It’s when you reach the true depths of being highly reflective, that you gain the positive attributes from doing so.

If you are curious about who you could be more reflective, or perhaps help someone else to be this way, I have included some suggestions below about how to accomplish doing this.

  • Simon Sinek is the person attributed to having people think about what their “why” is. Someone’s why can be associated with any number of different questions, but for the sake of this article, let’s have it focus on the aspect of “why” you lead, manage, mentor, or coach (e.g., sports) others? Take a few moments to write down, or think about why you do this.
  • After you have thought about or crafted your “why” relating to the point above, consider whether you want to share this information with someone else? Perhaps your team?
  • Factor in the benefits of others knowing and appreciating what your “why” is from having reflected upon thinking about this. Can you name what they are?
  • Consider the reasons you might not have taken the time to be reflective. Were you concerned that if you did this, that it would be a negative or positive experience?
  • Can you help someone else to take advantage of the powers of being reflective in their leadership, management or sports coach role?

I’m still looking for Sports Coaches to interview, so if you fall into one of the categories I noted that meet the criteria for me to be interviewed, I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

What will you get out of this? I’ll be sharing the results of my Sports Coach Research Project with all of the Sports Coaches who participated. The coaches will gain new insights from other coaches, and can potentially apply them to their team to benefit from too. Keep in mind, many of these coaches are well known for their winning records, but more importantly, for being the type of coach that every athlete desires to be coached by.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #SportsCoaches #Management #Success #Reflection #Theadvantagesofbeingreflective #Business #Sports #SportsCoachResearchProject #Athlete #Athletes #BreneBrown

Going back to easy…who’s in?

This morning I was inspired by a quote that perfectly captures the essence of what I believe is a philosophy which so many people are coming around to appreciate. The quote is from the founder of Le Pain Quotidien, Alain Coumont, and it was “I think the most sophisticated thing sometimes, can be going back to the simple things and that’s not always easy.”

Alain’s quote is almost non-sensical, as you would imagine that doing something simple should not be hard to accomplish. In fact, you would think this would be extremely easy to do. However, given the current environment we are living in is so precarious on numerous levels (e.g., economically, socially, health wise), it has thrown people into a tailspin as they attempt to make sense of our world being tipped upside down.

My home-based city is Boston, but this weekend I’m in New York City. This is the second time I have traveled since March of 2020, and the first time back to this city since a year ago. I was curious what condition I would find the state of the city to be in, and sadly, it’s worse than I expected it to be. Some things are the same, but the vibe and energy of the city has significantly changed. The fact so many businesses have been shuttered, and that the main places of entertainment have been too (e.g., Broadway, Museums, The Met), makes the city feel a lot like any other city. The graffiti and trash are back to a level I remember seeing a few decades ago, and the homeless population seems to be at an all-time high.

So, if a city like New York is not able to offer the traditional experience it did prior to Covid, what sets it apart from any other city? I posed this question to some of my friends who live here, and their responses were fascinating. Essentially, they shared with me that they are living in and treating the city as if it was always devoid of the elements and reasons people chose to live there. In other words, they have resorted to doing things which people living in the suburbs would typically do (e.g., going for walks, riding their bike, watching and listening to nature, and spending more time outside than inside).

You could easily say that people in New York, and probably in most parts of the country, are going back to living a simpler life. One without the trappings of always feeling like they need to be out and going someplace new, or doing something interesting. Their routines are being scaled down, and they are beginning to accept the living situation they are in. Perhaps even appreciating it more, especially if they are fortunate to be healthy, and have a paying job.

I’m certain if you had taken a survey and asked people a year ago if they could have imagined their life scaling back and describing to them how it is today, that they would never have believed it would be the way it is. However, in reality, I have a sense more people have come to terms with, and are more accepting of their reality a year into their lives being upended.

If you have not arrived at the place of being resigned to the fact your life might in fact be better now because of having to embrace the simple things in life being important, I challenge you to consider these suggestions to help you on this journey.

  • Since many people have not had to commute to their office, their “work attire” has likely shifted to a new level of “office casual”. In other words, they are finding that they are wearing less than half of the clothes they did before, and their dry-cleaning bills can prove this. Ultimately, this could mean you would have more room in your closet.
  • Understanding the concept that less is more maybe something you can finally wrap your minds around. Why? Because you might be more aware of the trappings of the “stuff” or clutter in your environment that is sucking up space and not adding any perceived value to your life. Purging unnecessary items from your life can be simultaneously cathartic, and charitable.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  
  • Space is relative, and there is definitely a middle ground in terms of having the right amount of it to live in. People who are living in small spaces might be wishing to have more space, and those with an abundance of space might be realizing they don’t need all the space they have. Spending so much time in your current space has provided you with a new appreciation for what the right amount of space might be for you.
  • Although not everyone will fare well from a relationship perspective, there will be people whose relationships will become stronger from spending so much “quality” time together. Providing they have the mentality that they are on the “same team”, and can add more value versus detract from being in one another’s lives.

The phrase “less is more” is one of my favorite expressions. If we could all embrace this as a concept, it will certainly help us to navigate as a society on our journey of going back to recognizing that there are some positive outcomes from living a simpler, less complicated life. Even in the midst of still being in the middle of living in a Pandemic as one of our main, but not our only challenge at this point in time.

TAGS: #Pandemic #Simplelife #Boston #NewYorkCity #Options #LessisMore #EmbracingChange #Perspective #Happiness #QualityofLife #LessComplicatedLife

What do you want?

Oddly sometimes it’s easier to not think about what you really want. To simply go along and not have anything change in your life. Yes, you can give great what I’ll refer to as “lip service” and talk endlessly about what you think you really want, but why is it that so many people do not pursue what they are talking about?

I believe this happens for a number of reasons. One could be fear of actually having what they want become a reality. Maybe they don’t think they actually deserve to have what they want to happen. Is this based on an underlining fear? Fear that they might try to go after something and not have it take place. 

Or, do people not fully architect either in their mind, in a written format or verbally what they want because doing so requires you to have some basis of a plan. Then, even harder, to put this plan into action. 

Let’s stay on the theme of having a plan to get to the place of knowing what you want. Either to do, or to craft as a way of going in a different direction than the one you are currently tracking on personally or professionally. Possibly both. 

For me personally, I approach considering what I want from what would be considered the visualization approach. In other words, I think about where I want to take my life personally or professionally, and then I envision what this would look like. Many athletes are accustomed to doing this, and so are people who have a performance or metric driven oriented profession or life. 

My Dad loves to ask me a multi-dimensional question. The question is “What if I won the lottery? How would this change my life, and what would I do with the winnings?” Typically, he asks me this when the lottery amount is staggeringly high, and the amount of money would certainly be life changing if you won. Of course, having more money than you might know what to do with is fun to think about, but let’s come back down to reality, and take this thought out of the equation.

I only popped this question into this story for the sake of giving you a way to begin brainstorming about what you really want. Think of it as a warm-up exercise. Now let’s move onto moving from being in a place where you are potentially stuck, or have not ever considered what you really want. Yes, this is possible. Namely because people have good intentions to figure out what they really want, but they get derailed at some point along their journey. Either by another person, circumstances, or perhaps because the life train simply leaves them standing on the platform, and then never get onboard another train. 

The train metaphor works well. Why? Because it also assumes life is a journey, and that we all have chances to decide when to get on-board with our journey towards what we want to pursue. Or, if we want to choose to remain on the platform, or on the same train for years to come. Perhaps because we think it’s easier to just go along with life this way. 

What if you wanted to begin thinking about and then putting into action what you really want to do? Below are some suggestions to help you to factor making this become a reality, as I believe all of us deserve a chance to craft the life we both want, deserve and have the courage to pursue. 

  • First admit whether you had an idea of what you wanted to pursue in your life or professionally and whether you have given up on this thought. If you have, ask yourself if there is potentially another way of pursuing what you wanted to, but in a different way? For example, I wanted to be an architect/interior designer when I was growing up. However, I stopped pursuing this dream because I wasn’t strong in math, and I was afraid I would be a failure. Fast forward twenty-five years, and I now act as an interior designer every day thanks to an interior design game app I play every day. Surprisingly, doing this has allowed me to resume my goal of being an architect/interior designer, just in a very different method than I had ever considered.
  • Begin with my warm-up exercise compliments of my Dad and start daydreaming about what if you were to win the lottery. Think about how it might change your life, and write down some ways it would. 
  • In the spirit of daydreaming about winning the lottery, think about if money were not object. Would you change the career you are in? Move to a different location, begin traveling or perhaps financially help others who you are close to who are struggling financially? Maybe you have so much money you are going to need to develop a charity, and spend the rest of your life giving away and donating your money to your favorite causes? The point is to thing “big”. 
  • You have heard of the expression “go big, or go home”. When you are thinking about what you want out of your life, don’t limit your thinking to only things you think you can attain. OK, perhaps have one or two things on your list, but make sure you have some seriously “big” goals to pursue. 
  • Having “big goals” can be more empowering than frustrating, as it challenges your mind to come up with solutions and possibilities of being able to achieve what you want. 
  • Is it possible for you to “test drive” anything you are considering pursuing as your “what I want to do” scenario? Factor in my example above of how I am leveraging virtual reality to satisfy my “what I have wanted to do” via playing the on-line game app which has allowed me to be a pseudo architect/interior designer”. In other words, really think out of the box if you have to. 

Pursuing what we really want to in our lives or professionally is something I have both personally accomplished doing, beyond just my example above, and what I help others to do every day. So, I know this isn’t an unrealistic concept to be considered just for fun. Drop in the comments section what your “what I really want to do” ideas are. I’d love to hear them. 

Tags: #Business #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment #Strategy #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration